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Malaysian visa office to open today

Getting a visa for Malaysia in Calcutta will become faster and easier with the southeast Asian country opening its visa application centre in the city on Wednesday.

VFS Global, an outsourcing agency, is setting up the centre in Shyambazar. “Visa applications can be submitted at the centre. After screening, they will be sent to the Malaysian high commission’s office in Delhi. After processing, the passport with visa documents will be sent back to the centre,” said Sanjay Budhia, the honorary consul for Malaysia in Calcutta.

“Once the centre starts functioning, the waiting period for a visa will be reduced from seven to eight days to four days,” said Budhia. “We are trying to work out a process to send the passport and visa papers to the applicant’s house directly.”

Malaysia high commission officials said Calcutta was the fifth city in the country where a visa application had been set up. Such centres were set up in Mumbai and Hyderabad in 2010 and in Delhi and Chennai this year.

The Calcutta office will remain open from 8am to 3pm. “The timing will be convenient for the applicants,” said Khairi Azali Bin Ibrahim, counsellor (immigration), Malaysian high commission, New Delhi.

The tourist traffic from India to Malaysia has been increasing over the past two years. In 2009, 5.9 lakh people from India had visited Malaysia. Last year, the figure rose to 6.9 lakh. “This year we are expecting 7.5 lakh visitors from India,” said Budhia.

High commission officials said around 500 visa applications were received from eastern India every week.

Tour operators said direct flight connectivity between Calcutta and Kuala Lumpur had increased passenger traffic over the past year. Low-cost airline Air Asia has started direct flights between the two cities from 2010. “Malaysia is fast becoming a hot tourist destination. Business and conference travellers, too, go to the country from this part of India,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (east), Travel Agents Federation of India.

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